It has been over a year since the Lodha committee recommendations were given legal backing by the Supreme Court but Gujarat Cricket Association president Amit Shah and joint secretary Jay Amit Shah, among others, continue to stay in office despite falling foul of norms that are meant to cleanse cricketing bodies of the powerful cliques that have run them for years.
The Supreme Court’s July 2016 order clearly states that all office-bearers must vacate their position for a three year “cooling off” period after completing a three-year term.
Amit Shah has been an office-bearer since 2009 (2009-14, vice president; 2014-now, president) while his son was elevated to the post of joint secretary in 2013. Elections were supposed to be held at the GCA last year but have been put on hold following the Supreme Court order. If due electoral process had been followed in 2016, Amit Shah and Jay Amit Shah would not have been eligible for the posts they now occupy.
In the case of Amit Shah, an additional disqualification might just have kicked in when he was elected to the Rajya Sabha in August, since MPs come under the definition of ‘public servants’ – a category of individual that the Supreme Court had barred from being involved in cricket administration.
Asked why he continues to be in office despite his ineligibility to hold the post of joint secretary at the GCA, Jay Shah told The Wire on Sunday around midnight, “that the subject matter of your questions is sub judice before the Hon’ble (sic) Supreme Court where the judicial decisions are yet to be taken. It is, therefore, absolutely inappropriate to discuss, debate or deliberate upon the issues raised.” He added: “However, I will contact and consult my legal advisor tomorrow and he will send an appropriate reply/response to you on my behalf. You are, therefore, requested to wait for a reply/response of my advocate.”
The Wire‘s questions to Amit Shah have not yet been answered.
It is certainly not the case that the issue of whether those who have completed a three-year term can continue has been varied by the Supreme Court; indeed, its order remains effective. In a landmark judgment last year, the Supreme Court legally validated most of the Lodha committee’s recommendations to revamp the administration of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The three-member committee had been appointed by the apex court following allegations of corruption, betting and match-fixing. In January 2016, the committee released its report which recommended an overhaul of the BCCI’s administrative structure.
While the BCCI contested the reforms, the Supreme Court viewed them as necessary to professionalise an organisation which had resisted change for too long. The objective was to establish a system which ran cricket transparently and fairly, rather than the sport being at the mercy of powerful individuals who merely sought to expand their sphere of influence. On July 18 last year, the BCCI was directed to accept a majority of the Lodha committee’s recommendations.
In the face of the cricket board’s continuing objections to some of the recommendations – especially ‘one state, one vote’, the age limit of 70 years and cooling periods, to name a few – the Supreme Court moved to remove the incumbent administration. In its place, a four-member committee of administrators (CoA) was installed to oversee the BCCI’s transition to a new constitution. While there have been hiccups along the way and the board continues to resist the Supreme Court order, the apex court has steadfastly stuck to its guns.
Ordered to quit
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ordered all ineligible office-bearers at the board and state associations to leave their office. This brought a string of resignations, with many prominent politicians vacating their posts. Sharad Pawar (Mumbai Cricket Association), Rajiv Shukla (Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association), Jyotiraditya Scindia (Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association.
Story by: The Wire